To abbreviate, but also to attract attention and depict symbolically, several different kinds of signs have appeared lately that use the picture of a heart instead of the word love. Thus there are signs that read, “I love my country”. These have the first and the last two words spelled out, but instead of the word love have a red heart pictured. It does take less room and attracts attention without a doubt. And the reason for this use of the heart in place of the word love is that the heart is considered to be the seat of love in man.
But the heart, according to Scripture, is more than that. The heart is the spiritual control center of man’s being. In Proverbs 4:23 we read, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” We may, therefore, call the heart the battery out of which all the spiritual energy flows that moves man in all his activities whether they be of mind, will, or strength. Even as the automobile battery supplies the spark which causes the gasoline to ignite and propel the car, and gives the radio and the lights the power to function, so the heart of man sends forth spiritual energy into every faculty and organ of man’s body to enable him to be sustained in spiritual life and to do his work. With man, in the natural sense of his earthly life, the heart pumps the life-giving blood to every cell in his body so that these cells are supplied with the oxygen and nourishment that they need for their activities. And whereas the physical heart pumps blood to each cell and organ, the spiritual heart of man, out of which are the issues of life, pumps love. Love is the “blood” that supplies the members of the body of man; and his spiritual heart is continually pumping it throughout his whole body.
Now a pure heart is one that pumps love toward God to every organ, faculty, and member. It is a heart that has only love toward God in it. It beats only with the love of God. Adam was created that way. Since the fall however, men are always born with hearts full of love for self. No, man does not love the devil. The opposite of love for God is not love for the devil. And Satan did not attempt, and succeed in his attempt, to get man to love him. He wanted man to hate God. He wanted the blood of man’s spiritual heart to be void of all love toward God. And to realize this he sought, and succeeded in his attempt, to get man’s heart to pump love for himself, that is, for his own flesh. Man’s heart cannot be empty. It always beats, as long as he lives, with some kind of love. And we are all born with impure blood, that is, with hearts that beat with love for self. And love for self is hatred against God. Just examine the temptation of Satan in paradise. It was designed to get man to cast his love toward God, to empty his heart veins and arteries of it, and to take into himself that love for self. He would be like God to decide for himself what was good and what was evil. He would perform an act of hatred against God in order to get rid of his love of God and to begin to seek self.
With that spiritual blood of hatred against God we are born. And as such we are not citizens in the kingdom of God. All the citizens of that kingdom love God. Love desires and seeks to please. Love wants to keep God’s law. We do not have that. Our hearts are full of impurity until we are born again, and the life of Christ, which is a life of pure love for God, is placed in us by the Holy Spirit, Who overcomes the works of the evil spirit.
Now another truth about the heart that we must remember, and was stated a moment ago though not stressed, is the fact that it is the center of our being. I called it a moment ago the spiritual control center. We often speak of the center of an object as its heart. We do that even of inanimate creatures that have no life. We speak of the heart of a city. Perhaps you have spoken once, or more than once, of the heart of a problem, or the heart of an issue. Well, being the battery out of which love flows to every member of our bodies, it is the center in a spiritual, not in a literal, physical sense. And therefore one who is pure in heart is pure clean through from his skin to the depth of his being. After all purity is the complete absence of anything foreign, of anything that does not belong there. Pure wool is nothing but wool. The advertisements that speak of one hundred percent pure are tautology. What is pure is one hundred percent that material. The pure of heart are those who are not simply pure in the center of their being. They are pure throughout. The pure in heart have nothing in their hearts but love toward God. When this spiritual control center is full of pure love toward God, it is going to control all the members in works of love to God.
A love to God that shows only on the face but is not in the heart is a sham, a false, make-believe love to God. It may deceive men, but it does not deceive God. And it does not reveal a man to be a citizen in the kingdom of God. God is not interested in a smile that is no deeper than the face, and in deeds of hand and foot that are to be found only in these members. They only shall see God and have that blessedness whose hearts beat with love to Him, and whose face and hands and feet and all their beings are controlled by that love. These are the citizens of the kingdom of God, which we have seen is a kingdom that exists for God and in which all revolves around serving and glorifying Him.
Now we must take into consideration, as already pointed out, that this Beatitude belongs to the series that reveals the characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven as they face their fellow men. Situated between a characteristic of being merciful and one of being peacemakers, there can be no doubt about it that we deal here with characteristics of these citizens as they face men. It certainly is true that as always we have to begin with man’s relation to God. The law begins that way. And you cannot have a man pure in heart as far as his dealings with man are concerned unless you have a man whose dealings before God are controlled by a heart that beats with the blood of love toward God. And since love toward God will always move a man to do what is pleasing in God’s sight, and what pleases Him in man is clearly written in the second table of the law as well as in the first, he who loves God will for God’s sake walk in love toward his neighbor. That is why he is merciful and a peacemaker. But that is also why before men he is pure in heart. That is why he can be and is a peacemaker.
One who is pure in heart, therefore, is one whom you can trust, one whose word is true. Whereas the merciful will not kill you or do you bodily harm but will help you in your afflictions and woes, the pure in heart will not defile you but will keep you and himself sexually pure, will not steal your goods or lie to get what you have, or to defend himself in his wickedness. Nor will he covet what God gave you and kept from him. In other words the citizen of the kingdom of heaven will be a model citizen also in his earthly, temporary kingdom here below. Because he loves God, he will love the neighbor. His will be a pure life, a holy life.
You will appreciate having this citizen of the kingdom of heaven as your neighbor. There will be no treachery or trickery in his dealings with you. You can accept his smile without fear of hidden motives. In the courts of the land you need a written statement signed by your neighbor, or your case is weak, and you are apt to lose. You do not, however, need to have the pure in heart sign anything. It is not simply his mouth, nor yet his hand that seems pure. He is pure in heart, and that pure heart will move him to keep his word and give with his hand, no matter how hard it may be for him to do as he promised. Why, if you had a nation full of pure in heart people, you would need no police or courts and judges. And there will be none of these in the new Jerusalem.
Probably your thoughts at the moment are, “If only such shall see God, then there is no one who is a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and will have that blessedness of seeing God. There just are no such people on this earth. And how could Jesus say all this to His disciples? There was not one of them even that was pure in heart, if that is the meaning.’’ One thing we must remember in this connection is that while on this earth the citizens of the kingdom of heaven have an old man of sin and a new man in Christ. The unbelievers have only a man of sin. And it is this new man in Christ who is pure in heart. He has the life of Christ, Who is The Pure in Heart, in him, and that new man cannot and does not ever sin. That is right! Those born again have in them a life that never sins. Just turn to I John 3:9. There we read, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” That life makes one pure in heart.
The pure in heart, Jesus said, have this blessedness that they shall see God. We deal here with a figure of speech. Scripture makes it abundantly clear in many passages that no man can see God in His essence. What we will see is His Son in our glorified human nature. He is God’s face, and we certainly shall see Him.
But we have a figure of speech here also in the sense that seeing God refers to a full experience of the blessedness that is in Him for us. We shall also hear Him. We shall taste and touch Him. Yea, we shall even smell the joys in Him. To see a rose is to experience a thing of beauty, but how much richer also to smell its fragrance? Some objects must be heard as well as seen. What joy is there in seeing a massive pipe organ and a sheet of music compared with hearing that organ play that piece of music? And the pure in heart are not going to be cut off from any of the joyful experiences that go with living in God’s fellowship. Seeing God then means knowing fully the love of God for us. Those whose hearts pump love toward God to all our members will be blessed with knowing God’s love for them in all its fullness and with all its joys and delights.
But even as seeing the beauty of the rose demands a clear eye, and smelling its fragrance is impossible without a well functioning set of nostrils, so seeing God is only for those pure in heart. If you please, only those whose hearts are full of love toward God are by Him equipped to know His love for them. One must be born again with that kind of heart to see God. Even as an AM radio cannot pick up FM broadcasts, so those only born once cannot see God. They do not even want to see God; and when He comes at the end of time they will call for the hills and mountains to cover them and hide Him from their view. A pure heart reveals that God has given us the spiritual equipment to know Him in His love toward us in Christ.